Perinatal mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are quite common, and sadly, they can be very serious. One in five expecting or new mothers and one in ten expecting or new fathers will experience anxiety and/or depression, affecting around 100,000 families across Australia every year. Mental illness during pregnancy or the first 12 months of bub’s life can have lasting impacts on parents, partners, baby and the rest of the family unit. The first step to getting help is recognising something is or feels wrong; the second is summoning the courage to ask for support.
PANDA is here to help parents experiencing symptoms like these.
PANDA’s vision is for every expecting and new parent to know that help is available and how to access it should they experience perinatal mental illness. PANDA’s National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline is Australia’s only free, national helpline service for women, men and their families affected by perinatal mental illness. The Helpline provides a safe and confidential space for any new or expecting parent struggling with the challenges of becoming a new parent. People can also visit PANDA’s Mental Health Checklist.
PANDA also plays an important role in educating health professionals. Using knowledge from our Helpline and from our hundreds of volunteers, they advocate to government and health providers for better services and support across Australia.
Signs and symptoms of perinatal mental illness, and what to look out for.
Perinatal mental illnesses like anxiety and depression can be difficult to recognise for a whole range of reasons. Symptoms are often dismissed as normal parts of pregnancy or early parenthood. Shame and stigma can lead to a ‘mask of coping’. Symptoms can look different for each person.
Signs may include:
It’s important for expecting and new parents who are worried about their emotional and mental wellbeing to seek support. PANDA’s free National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline is here for you. PANDA’s National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline 1300 726 306 Mon to Fri, 9am – 7.30pm (AEST/AEDT)
PANDA supports families across Australia affected by perinatal anxiety and depression and postnatal psychosis through specialist services and resources.
PANDA aims to help expecting and new parents struggling with their mental health to understand what’s happening to them and how to seek support, so that they can have the very best chance to grow healthy families where both parents and children can thrive.
In 2021 for the first year ever, our 60 stores Australia-wide fundraised for PANDA for 6 weeks. From Wednesday 7 April until Wednesday 19 May our passionate teams encouraged customers to donate $2 when shopping with us in-store or online to support this important cause. This initiative worked towards helping PANDA on their mission to support expecting and new parents and their families experiencing perinatal mental illnesses.
As a cause very close to our hearts, PANDA is a vital source of information and support for families enduring the most difficult of circumstances. And we are determined to continue supporting the incredible work they undertake to help ensure the best possible health and wellbeing for these families.
As soon as I became a parent, my emotional and environmental status quo was shaken up instantly. Our baby screamed as soon as he was born. Sleep became really difficult, partner one on one time reduced and my time was not my own anymore. My wife and I experienced 12 months of interrupted sleep every night as well as seeing our son, suffering from reflux, scream in discomfort frequently during the day. None of these things had been talked about in antenatal classes. I withdrew from colleagues at work and my friends. I was in a constant state of worry. I didn’t want to communicate how I was feeling to my partner, because I didn’t feel like I had a right to, given what she was going through. I felt hopeless and alone. I remember one night, several months into parenting, I was woken up during the night and had reached breaking point. I screamed my lungs out at my son, loud enough for the neighbour's dogs to start barking. Having a relaxed personality, this was totally out of character; it scared me, as well as my wife and especially my son. That’s when I realised that my life had changed and I needed to change with it. I did not reach out to PANDA, but wished I had. Dads, if you want to be a hero in the eyes of your partner and children, I encourage you to embrace your vulnerability and seek support. You will become a more capable and stronger father for doing so.
Every time I closed my eyes, my mind would play endless loops of scenarios involving my child being harmed and me not being able to protect him. This would jolt me awake. My body would flood with adrenaline and I was consumed with white hot rushes of fear. My heart would race. I was panicked. One night, desperate and in tears, I looked up the PANDA website. There was a list of signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression and I found myself identifying with most of them. I was so shocked that there could actually be a name for what I was going through. For so long I had felt like I just wasn’t coping because I was too sensitive and that this was just what motherhood was going to be like for me. Finally, I picked up the phone and called PANDA. I didn’t know what to expect, but as I spoke with the counsellor I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. It was the first step on my road to recovery and I’ll always remember how kind and comforting the voice on the other end of the phone was and how soon I started to feel better.